How to set SMART objectives for your marketing team and agency? 

April 15, 2018

By  Thomas Wittig

SMART marketing objectives and goals

How to set SMART objectives for your marketing team and agency

Whether you are delivering a project, developing a new product or running a marketing campaign it is always good to know what is expected and how the goals will be accomplished. In fact, uncertainty and ambiguity about goals and contribution are a major source of friction and dissatisfaction in organizations. Especially when it comes to reviewing and discussing performance and compensation it is more effective and a better experience when you have a clear goals and transparent contributions.

This blog post is all about SMART objectives, why they are important and how you can define and use them in your daily work.

In addition to this blog post you can find more information. In this video on our YouTube channel I am talking about SMART objectives. You can also find the video below.

Also, check out the idea,- podcast. A great way to stay informed about topics for growth, innovation and transformation.

What is SMART objective or goal?

SMART goals or objectives are a management tool which is designed to define performance goals in a clear and unambiguous way. This applies to project management, marketing campaigns, personal and career development and employee performance management. It is also very useful in guiding the work of outside contributors, such as marketing agencies. A SMART objective is

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The main idea about SMART objectives is to discuss and agree objectives and targets which are very clear and specific. It takes the guess work and ambiguity out of the equation for a given job role, project and tasks.

Illustration what the acronym SMART stands for

Definition of smart goal objective

For example, let’s assume your team is responsible for a new digital product, let’s say a SaaS based accounting tool. The current revenue run rate is 12k per month and the goal is to grow it to 36k per month. On your team you have different contributions: content producer, SEO specialists, customer success managers, product managers, agencies and the marketing manager. How would you go about setting objectives?

If you tell everybody on the team that you want to triple the revenue run rate, that is an important and interesting information, but it does not make it clear what is expected from each and every one. It is important to break it down into manageable pieces and assign it to the right person.

A single SMART objective could look like this. Of course, you need to define the other objectives and make sure they add up at the end.

Smart objective in a table format.

Example of a smart objective in marketing

Why setting a SMART marketing objective?

As an employee, contributor and external vendor it can be pretty frustrating when you don’t know what exactly is expected of you. Especially in larger organizations we find often that a key driver of employee satisfaction is lack of alignment and identification. In other words: how do you contribute to your team, department, the company as a whole or even the ecosystem?

And if you are in a management and people leadership role you also want to make sure that the strategic intent, contribution and desired outcomes are well understood by everybody on the team. How challenging can it be when you are discovering during a project review or a performance check-in discussion that the goals were not clear?

Also, it is important to understand if and how all the contributions add up. For example, you want to ensure that all the elements in your marketing campaign add up after the project is finished and the budget is spent.

And last but not least it is good know how to define and allocate the marketing budget and align your strategies and tactics with clear goals on the level of implementation.

How to align smart objectives with the marketing funnel?

The first thing is to map out the marketing funnel and the customer journey. Make sure you capture all the steps and ensure that they really map to the actual sequence.

Especially when you are making changes in your marketing tactics and in the steps of the funnel it is important to update your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and the analytics. Therefore, it is also smart to have a tracking sheet of the changes and to include the change history in your analytics. Again, the idea is also to avoid unfavourable surprises – especially when it comes to performance review and bonus discussions.

Illustration showing the marketing funnel, KPI and who is responsible.

How to align smart objective goals with the customer journey and the marketing funnel.

In the next steps, make sure to capture a coherent set of KPIs which are connected. One way to accomplish this is to develop a spreadsheet model which takes all the steps and KPIs and calculates the desired outcome.

Finally, make sure to assign the key objectives to the person on the team who is responsible for the outcome. And it is important to make sure that everybody has the bigger picture and knows about the other team member’s goals.

spreadsheet with coherent set of KPI and calculated result

Example of smart objective goals and how they are connected.

Having a weekly or monthly discussion about the objectives, using your model and real time data, is a good way for everyone to stay on top of things. It is also a good way to avoid unpleasant surprises.

How to make objectives actionable and accountable?

It is important to be very clear and specific about the objective. For example, for your marketing campaign you want to make sure that the traffic to your website landing page increases and that you get the return on your marketing spend.

In this example the objective is specified:

To increase the traffic. And not just in general, but to a specific section on your website and by a defined percent increase.

The metric is clear: “Page visits per day”. And it is also clear which report you are looking at (Google Analytics). You can make this even more specific by specifying for example: “Unique page visits” (metric) from “Germany” (geography) through “…paid traffic…” (channel) to the page “URL…” (destination URL).

The current base-line and the target performance are defined.

And the time frame is clear: when do you expect the improvement and the performance to occur.

And finally, it is clear when you will review and discuss the progress: in this case on a weekly basis.

Make it easy: The good thing about this objective is that the data comes from GA (Google Analytics). You can use the feature to set up the report and send it automatically to the team and to yourself.

Smart objective in a table format.

Example of a smart objective in marketing

SMART objective dashboard and monitoring performance

Once the set of coherent and smart objectives are defined, make sure to keep track of the performance and trends of all objectives. At the end it counts that all elements are on track and contribute to the performance. Also, it is a useful practice to let every team member know where the projects stands and how everyone is contributing to the progress.

Table with KPI and performance trend charts.

Dashboard to keep track of smart goal attainment and progress.


In this blog post we discussed the how-to of setting, monitoring and reviewing SMART objectives for your marketing team and agency. You can find more information and tools on the related briefing website of the “Idea,- cast”including worksheet examples for:

  • Goal templates
  • Monitoring
  • Mapping objectives to the marketing funnel
  • Worksheet for defining performance incentives.

The key take-aways to get started:

  • Discuss and agree SMART objectives with your marketing team members and your agency.
  • Align your desired outcomes with goals and accountabilities on all levels from individual contributor to managers and external delivery partners.
  • Use analytics to have an informed discussion about progress, performance and resource allocation.
  • Performance drives allocation of resources, awards and incentives.

What is your experience with this topic? Please leave a comment here or in the related Facebook group.

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